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Vegetarians

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may be many things, but they are not lonely. A Gallup poll conducted in 1985 for American Health magazine found that nearly nine million Americans call themselves . In addition, another 40 million adults are eating less meat and more plant foods than in the past. Similarly, a recent consumer study carried out by the National Restaurant Association found that customers are ordering fewer meat dishes and more salads, fresh fruits, and fruit juices than they used to. The number of vegetarian restaurants is also increasing. The "Essential Guide" to vegetarian restaurants published by Vegetarian Times magazine in 1987 lists over 1000 entries; a 1978 edition listed only 350. Clearly, the American diet is changing. The growing mainstream status of vegetarianism is reflected in recent articles in popular magazines. For example, Newsweek, in 1986, referred to our healthier eating habits as "vegetarian chic," and Time, in 1988, praised the new vegetarian preferences of health-conscious young adults. Indeed, many individuals have stopped eating meat for health reasons, although some have also been influenced by the animal liberation movement, religious beliefs, concerns about world hunger, or an awareness of the environmental damage caused by livestock production. But whatever their motives,one thing is clear: Vegetarianism can no longer be viewed as a fringe phenomenon. The Gallup poll also revealed that nearly three fourths of Americans reject the notion that vegetarianism is merely a passing fad.
A look at the historical record reveals that these people are correct. In fact, vegetarianism has a long, although not always illustrious, history in the West. A quick review of this history helps put present-day vegetarianism in perspective.
The history of Vegetarianism may surprise some people. It may surprise many people to hear that our early ancestors lived on a semi-vegetarian diet for several million years. Some anthropologists have fostered the stereotype of "man the hunter," but studies of contemporary "hunter-gatherers" suggest that early humans lived primarily on a diet of plant foods, with supplementation from animal flesh. Studies of tribal Australian aborigines and the Kung-San of South Africa-groups that live under conditions similar to those of our ancestors-show that only about one fourth of their caloric intake derives from animal products. Nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables are the staple foods of these groups. A view of early humans as gatherers rather than hunters is a more accurate portrayal.
Like most good ideas in the West, vegetarianism was developed by the ancient Greeks. Pythagoras and Porphyry were the best-known practicing vegetarians, but the list of those who advocated a vegetarian diet includes Diogenes, Plato, Epicurus, and Plutarch. The Greeks favored vegetarianism for a variety of reasons. Pythagoras and his followers believed that animals as well as humans have souls, and that after death, an animal may be reincarnated as a human and vice versa. According to this view, animals should not be killed and eaten because all souls have equal worth. Plato, in The Republic, described a vegetarian diet as being best suited for his ideal society. Plant foods were preferred, according to Plato, because they promote health and because they require less land to produce than do animal foods.

Other Greek thinkers felt that eating animal flesh was naturally repugnant and should be rejected on aesthetic grounds. The Romans borrowed many ideas from the Greeks, including vegetarianism, and in spite of their p ffb enchant for feeding undesirables to the lions, vegetarian ideas survived throughout Roman times The poet Ovid and the philosopher Seneca are examples of Romans who expounded the cause of vegetarianism. The fall of Rome and the spread of Christianity across Europe led to a "dark ages" in vegetarian thought. During this time, Christian thinkers such as Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas provided intellectual rationalizations for the killing, eating, and general exploitation of animals by humans. They argued that only people have free will, rationality, and souls, and that animals were placed on earth for the convenience and use of humans-views that are still accepted by the majority of Christians today.

However, the tradition of vegetarianism was kept alive in dark and dingy Christian abbeys where monks abstained from meat to suppress their animal passions. (The belief ...

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Keywords: vegetarians eat eggs, vegetarians vs vegans, vegetarians eat fish, vegetarians in india, vegetarianske recepty, vegetarians meaning, vegetarians eat cheese, vegetarians tend to have

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